Some families can become confused when they learn of their baby’s HIE, or hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy diagnosis. Couple this with shoulder dystocia and compressed umbilical cord with HIE, families must take in a lot of information when these issues are present. For today’s article we will break down these issues, with the hope of helping the reader understand how an HIE diagnosis can present itself under certain circumstances when shoulder dystocia is present.

As we have stressed in the past, not every child will be impacted by HIE the same way. One important thing to take into consideration is the severity of the HIE diagnosis.


According to some data, shoulder dystocia can impact up to 2% of births. It is a condition which creates an emergency in the delivery room because of the possible serious injury to the baby. Shoulder dystocia occurs when the baby becomes trapped behind the mother’s pelvis during labor and delivery. Doctors must identify the condition and then work to free the baby. There are certain types of maneuvers and positions they can move mom to, to free the baby. The following are certain risk factors which can possibly increase the risk of shoulder dystocia:

  • Macrosomia: a baby that weighs more than 8 pounds 13 ounces at birth. A C-section might be suggested at this weight instead of a vaginal delivery.
  • Being pregnant with more than one baby.
  • Gaining too much weight during pregnancy.
  • A previous shoulder dystocia pregnancy
  • The presence of gestational diabetes

Because the baby is stuck during shoulder dystocia, another concern outside of a possible brachial plexus injury is compression of the umbilical cord. A baby’s umbilical cord can also become trapped during shoulder dystocia and this can create a host of problems if this is not rectified.


HIE is a reduced level of blood and oxygen, which leads to a brain injury. There are several reasons why a baby can suffer blood and oxygen reduction during labor and delivery. As was stated above, shoulder dystocia can lead to a baby’s umbilical cord being compressed and as a result, directly impact the flow of oxygen to the baby.

Doctors and nurses can see the baby’s heart rate on the electronic fetal heart monitor and get a sense of how well the baby is tolerating the delivery. When oxygen deprivation occurs for too long this is how a brain injury can occur.

Thanks for reading, from your friends at HIE Resource Place.